Between production, packaging, transport and cooking, the things we eat can have a massive impact on the earth. Luckily, they’re also some of the easiest habits to change. Here are the first steps to going on an environmentally-friendly diet.
If you’re thinking about changing what you eat to get a healthy body for summer, maybe it’s also time to think about what you should eat for a healthy planet. Here are four things you can try to reduce your impact on the world:
1. Try some hipster greens
You may have heard about kale – the leafy green that has become a hipster health-food superstar lately. Scientists are hoping kelp – that’s right, seaweed – will follow in its footsteps as the ultimate in environmentally-friendly nutrition.
Kelp can be grown in dense coastal sites rather than fresh water and space hogging fields, minimising the precious resources needed to cultivate it. According to Grist, not only can kelp grow in salt water, it helps clean nutrient runoff and similar toxics that damage our oceans. Kelp also grows so fast that scientists claim it’s particularly good at sequestering our carbon emissions. It’s a winner all round!
According to Grist, if the world’s wasted food became its own island – it would be the third biggest contributor to climate change globally. In the West, much of this occurs due to poor composting practises, wastefulness, cosmetic selection by farmers and supermarkets, and inefficient supply chains – all of which are preventable. Australians alone let$8 billion worth of edible food hit the bin every year – wasting massive amounts of water and energy.
The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation say roughly one-third of food globally is wasted. In a new report, the UNFAO traces the massive environmental impacts of this waste:
Without accounting for [greenhouse gas] emissions from land use change, the carbon footprint of food produced and not eaten is estimated to 3.3 Gtonnes of CO2 equivalent: as such, food wastage ranks as the third top emitter after USA and China. Globally, the blue water footprint (i.e. the consumption of surface and groundwater resources) of food wastage is about 250 km3, which is equivalent to the annual water discharge of the Volga River, or three times the volume of Lake Geneva. Finally, produced but uneaten food vainly occupies almost 1.4 billion hectares of land; this represents close to 30 percent of the world’s agricultural land area.
What you can do:
Check your fridge and pantry and make a shopping list before you hit the supermarket
Use your leftovers wisely – try turning fruit and veg that’s slightly past peak into yummy smoothies and soups!
The Guardian reports that giving up red meat could be as effective at cutting your carbon emissions as giving up your car. Further research into daily eating habits found that the diets of British meat lovers amounted to double the climate-warming emissions of their vegetarian peers.
And it’s not just on land that we’re eating unsustainably – our seafood consumption habits and man-made climate change are hurting our oceans. We need to dramatically improve global fishing practises and combat air pollution and ocean acidity. Learn more here.
What you can do:
Choose grass-fed beef rather than grain-fed
If you can’t cut meat out of your diet – try joining people like Sir Paul McCartney and Chris Martin by adopting Meatless Mondays
If you’re already vegetarian and loving it – you could try reducing your footprint even more by cutting down on dairy
4. Find out who made your food
One of the most blissful ignorances that many people harbour today is that slavery is a nightmare of the past. Unfortunately, slavery is still a $32 billion dollar global industry that likely spans the entire supply chain of your favourite foods.
Right now, Greenpeace is working to help industry and governments improve conditions for workers in the fishing industry – who face among the worst working conditions in the world. Workers can encounter a whole spectrum of issues ranging from extremely low wages, inadequate sanitation, lack of safety equipment, lack of personal space and long working hours to documented cases of forced labour, human trafficking and even murder at sea.
According to the EPA, food accounts for around 30% of the Australian ecological footprint.
Luckily, eating local produce can be a great way to cut down on unsustainable production, extreme travel distances and excess packaging. In a country where about 60% of the food retail market is owned by two companies, it’s becoming increasingly important for our climate, environment and economy that we find out where and how our food is grown – and what better way than buying from the source?
Twelve months ago I was arrested along with 29 of my ship mates on board the Arctic Sunrise. The reason for my arrest was simple, I couldn’t remain silent as the Russian oil giant, Gazprom, carried out its ambition to drill in this glorious wilderness of the Arctic.
But a year is a long time. After nearly three months detention in a very grim Russian jail, I was freed along with my mates and was finally able to go home best mate and wife, Chrissy, and daughter Maddy. It was a great day.
I am back on board the Arctic Sunrise, trying to repair the damage inflicted on her by the Russian soldiers that tried to take her apart. I have time for thought, reflection and reading. Right now I’m reading the story surrounding the Tasmanian Government’s changes to laws protecting our forests and the places we love and I can’t believe it is true. Not only is the government going to repeal the Forest Agreement, they are also trying to change the laws to make sure they have the power to jail all the Australians who will once again go to the forest to protect her from their plunder. When I was in Russia I was really grateful for the freedoms that citizens have in Australia to peacefully protest and I’m so worried to see those freedoms being eroded.
I can’t help but wonder if this is all part of same corrupting influence big business has on our democratic processes? We have seen what this looks like as NSW reveals the extent of corruption
through the ICAC Inquiry. I’m worried by the general trend in Australia of Governments changing laws to let big business trash our environment while making it harder and harder to peacefully protest to protect nature. At the moment it seems as though it gives big business a free run to vandalise our country by digging up coal, dumping on the Reef, selling uranium to India and open our national parks to shooters, logging and mining?
And then lock up all those who disagree for a mandatory three months?
When will these people learn, we don’t have second planet to go to if they trash this one. Whether it’s the Arctic, the Tarkine, the Reef or the nature strip out the front of your place, we must stand
together to protect the places we love for the people we love. That’s why I’m back on board the Arctic Sunrise.